Verses 1, 2, & 4 Joseph Hart; Verse 3 David L. Ward
Posts for the ‘Songs’ Category
Behold the throne of grace!
The promise calls me near,
There Jesus shows a smiling face,
And waits to answer prayer.
That rich, atoning blood,
Which sprinkled 'round I see,
Provides for those who come to God
An all-prevailing plea.
Romans chapter 8 is one of the most comforting passages in all of Scripture for believers. It asserts that once we are united to Christ there is no more condemnation for our sin (past and present), we have the Holy Spirit indwelling us to help us fight against remaining sin, we have been adopted in God’s family, even though we (and creation) suffer the effects of sin through pain and suffering, one day all things will be made new, and nothing can ever separate us from the love of God in Jesus. Perhaps the most precious gem of all is found in verse 28: “We know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” Even though the circumstances of our lives may be painful and confusing and cause us to doubt God’s love for us, we can hold fast to this promise by faith that even when we can’t see His loving purpose behind our suffering, we know it is there. He will work all things for our good and for His glory. Amen!
The Bible makes it clear that Christians will experience suffering, both as loving chastisement from our wise Father meant to grow us in holiness and as the result of living in a fallen and decaying world where sickness and death have still not been completely vanquished. In each case God designs our sufferings for our good (Romans 8:28) and for His glory but if we are honest, all of us have doubted God’s goodness and even His existence especially in times of suffering. But believer, be encouraged for suffering is a means to “know Him and the power of His resurrection.” (Philippians 3:10) In our weakness we can cry out to God like the man in the gospel of Mark (9:24) “I do believe; help my unbelief.” This song is filled with encouraging reminders that even though our way may be compared to a dark storm or a bitter illness, our Savior does not leave us and stays ever near us. He will soon appear for our relief, whether on the other side of glory or through deliverance and healing in this life.
The Bible tells us that because of the disease of sin, our hearts are deceitful (Jeremiah 17:9). And Jesus tells us that “from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness.” (Mark 7:21-22) All of our sinful behavior has its root in a sinful, prideful, heart and all too often we fail to recognize and repent of the attitudes and thoughts within us, tainting all that we do, as sinful in and of themselves. This is why Isaiah says that “all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment” (Isaiah 64:6), why even our songs of praise, our words of thanksgiving to God, or acts of charity, our service in the church are all unacceptable before God and worthy of condemnation before Him. Our holy God deserves to be the only object of worship and attention and He will not accept anything less. This song recognizes the fact that, in the words of the author of “The Dark Guest,” “I have a secret motive to eye my name in all I do.” But it does not stop at lamenting how thoroughly our sin has penetrated our beings, it goes on to declare the glory of the cross of Christ – that it can meet our deepest need! As we continue to trust in Christ’s work of atonement and propitiation for us on the cross, and as God reveals the deeper and deeper chasms of sinful motives that lie in our heart, we will gain a greater appreciation “of the great grace that saved such a wretch as I am.”
This is a song designed to help the believer confess and repent of sin especially in the public assembly. Even though God commands that we confess our sins to Him and seek forgiveness throughout our lives and not just at conversion (1 John 1:9), we often fail to acknowledge specific circumstances, thoughts, or acts that were sinful. It is far more comfortable to admit that we are sinners in a general sense and to confess to God that we have sinned without divulging (or even remembering) the details. But God requires more and has commanded that we “acknowledge our sin to [Him] and not hide our iniquity” so that He might “forgive the guilt of our sin.” (Psalm 32:5) We need the Spirit’s work in us to help us be aware of and to prick our hearts for things like worldly thinking, a lack of awe over God’s power, thoughts that glorify ourselves, not cherishing the gospel, and not seeking God’s presence with warmth and enthusiasm. May this song help us to corporately sing (and pray) what Jesus taught us in the Lord’s prayer: “Forgive us our trespasses.” (Matthew 6:12)
The Christian holiday of Good Friday, the Friday before Resurrection Day (commonly called Easter), is a very special day for on it we remember how our precious savior suffered and died on our behalf. To non-Christians our fascination with the death and suffering of Jesus may seem morbid at best and downright disgusting at worst. But there is a purpose to meditating on Jesus’ pain and torture. God has done something to our hearts like He promised in Zechariah 2:10 (“they will look on Me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him”) so that considering the bloody cross moves us to repentance, faith, and love for Jesus. It is at the cross that we see most clearly how seriously God takes sin and the punishment it deserves. We learn from 1 Peter 2:24 that Jesus “bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed.” It should have been us on that cross; we put Him there. It is because of the sins that we commit daily, the sins we often dismiss and minimize as “not that big a deal,” that Jesus suffered. The cross is precious not just because we see the seriousness of sin but more importantly, the unbelievable depth of grace. On the cross God’s mercy moved Him to give His own beloved Son over to bear His wrath when He had done nothing to deserve it. Look what God did to reconcile us to Himself! Look what Jesus endured to pay for our sin and win us to Himself! We need not look to the cross with fear but with expectation, for it is there where we find true love, acceptance, and friendship because of what Jesus did.
There are a few topics about which it is hard to find an abundance of truly good quality hymns. The Lord’s Supper is one of those topics and this song is one of the true gems of hymnody that combines doctrine with delight, teaching with thankfulness. This song is rooted in the gospel of grace; that God invited us to His table, enabled us to hear His voice and respond, and now calls us to dine on the peace and pardon available to us through Jesus’ blood. The second verse calls to mind the parable of the marriage feast in Matthew 22. The reminder that thousands would “rather starve than come” to Christ reminds us that without God’s enabling grace we would still be stubbornly hungry as well. When we gather as a church family around the Lord’s Supper we experience a foretaste of the marriage supper of the Lamb. (Revelation 19) May God be glorified as we remember His grace in saving us and bringing us to His table!
The doctrine of election (the sovereignty of God in choosing whom He desires to save) is often accused of making evangelism unnecessary, unfruitful, or even pointless. It is reasoned that if God has already chosen who to save then why should we preach the gospel and try to persuade all men to repent and believe in Jesus? While the Bible affirms election (Ephesians 1:3-14; Romans 9:8-24), it also affirms the personal responsibility of mankind to believe the gospel (2 Thessalonians 1:8) and the fact that God declares that all men, everywhere should repent (Acts 17:30). The two truths of God’s election and God’s call to salvation stand side by side in a glorious harmony that is beyond the comprehension of humans. This song moves from thanking God for causing us to be saved (affirming His sovereignty in our salvation) to how that truth should motivate us to missions. Election is actually the strongest motivation FOR missions since we have been told that God has chosen some to be saved from every nation (Revelation 5:9). If it were not for God stepping in to open blind eyes and allowing men to repent of their sin, no one would be saved. Praise God that because of His sovereignty in salvation preaching the gospel WILL bring men to salvation! Let this truth move us, individually, and corporately, to share our faith wherever God has called us.
This one-verse hymn text that can be sung to the popular tune LAUDA ANIMA (a well-known text to this tune is "Praise, My Soul, the King of Heaven") is designed for singing at meal times. Before each meal it is traditional for Christians to pause and give thanks for the blessing of food: the sustenance that it provides as well as the enjoyment of it. We humbly offer this text, based on one by Charles Spurgeon, as a possible family tradition in your household. The Ward family has already adopted it and has even had several chances to sing it for extended family, giving witness of our faith (as well as the children's singing abilities!). In this song we not only ask God for the traditional blessing but move on to remember that we are fed by God, not by our own hands. Though our food is harvested, shipped, and prepared by men, God is the one who ultimately causes it to grow and gives each man the ingenuity, limbs, and muscles to do their jobs. What's more, man does not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God (Deuteronomy 8:3) So God Himself is our true food, not the physical food set before us. Lastly, we sing as a family that we never want to forget the true significance of food: it points to our need for more than just physical bread but living bread, Jesus Himself. John 6:51: "I am the living bread that came down out of heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread also which I will give for the life of the world is My flesh."